Cohen Sentenced to Years In Prison: Crimes, Trump, and Russia

Michael Cohen today was sentenced to three years in prison for nine crimes committed during his years as President Trump’s “fixer.” Three in particular relate directly to his relationship with the President of the United States:

  • Two felony counts of campaign finance crimes

  • One count of lying to Congress about Trump’s dealings with Russia

A sentencing memo from the Southern District of New York alleges that Cohen broke the law at the behest of then-candidate Donald Trump, for the purpose of influencing the election. According to federal prosecutors, this coordination directly implicates the president in a felony. The federal judge presiding over the sentencing reportedly said that“The President of the United States directed Cohen to commit some of the crimes that Cohen is headed to jail for.”

Cohen’s lies to Congress, meanwhile, relate to Russia on behalf of the Trump organization. Michael Cohen, as an insider with Trump’s family business – worked with Russians on the prospective development of Trump Tower Moscow. In an attempt to distance himself and the Trumps from alleged collusion with Russians, Cohen lied about these contacts to Congress – asserting that they ceased in January of 2016. In fact, the communications continued well until June of that year, when Donald Trump was the presumptive Republican nominee for office, and around the time when the Trump team was rewriting the Republican platform to be more pro-Russia.

The negotiations, about which Cohen regularly updated Donald Trump and his children, coincided with an increased effort by the Russian government to interfere in the United States presidential election on Donald Trump’s behalf.

Michael Cohen’s Russia Timeline

Michael Cohen Meets Oligarchs in Moscow

November 9th, 2013: Donald Trump and Michael Cohen travel to Moscow for the Miss Universe Pageant, where they meets with Russian oligarchs like Aras Agalarov and Herman Gref, the CEO of Sberbank (the largest state-owned bank).

  • Agalarov’s son, Emin, helped to arranged the 2016 Trump Tower meeting.

  • Agalarov has also reportedly served as a liaison between Putin and Trump.

A Russian American Businessman Emails Cohen to “Get Donald Elected.”

November 3rd, 2015: Felix Sater emails Cohen, “I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected… Buddy our boy can become President of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putin’s team to buy in on this.”

  • Sater lined up financing for Trump Tower Moscow from a Russian bank that was under American sanctions for its efforts to undermine democracy in Ukraine.

Cohen Emails Putin’s Right-Hand Man About Trump Moscow

January 2016: Cohen emails Dmitry Peskov, referred to as “a longtime Putin Lieutenant,” for help on Trump Moscow.

  • Cohen wrote the request at the recommendation of Felix Sater.

  • Cohen claimed to Congress in August of 2017 that his negotiations with foreign investors to build Trump Tower in Russia ended in January 2016.

  • In actuality, Cohen continued to negotiate with Russians through June of 2016, while Donald Trump was the presumptive Republican nominee for office. These negotiations coincided with the increasing attempts by Russians to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Cohen Cancelled a Trip to Russia at Time of DNC Hacks

June 14, 2016: Cohen meets an associate in New York who had been trying to arrange his travel to Russia.  Cohen informs the associate that he will not be making the journey, but has a twenty minute phone call with a Russian government employee.

  • The Washington Post on that day reported that Russian operatives had infiltrated the computer network of the Democratic National Committee.

Cohen Might Have Met with Kremlin Officials in Prague

August 2016: According to the unverified Steele Dossier, Cohen met with Kremlin officials in Prague to discuss how to make discrete payments to Europe-based hackers.

  • Special Counsel Robert Mueller reportedly has evidence that Cohen was, in fact, in Prague, though it is unclear if he met with Russian officials.

  • Cohen and his attorney, Lanny Davis, deny that he has ever been to Prague.

  • In January 2017, Cohen solicited a reimbursement of $50,000 from the Trump campaign for payment made to an unidentified tech company.

Cohen Meets with Kremlin-Affiliated Businessmen at Trump Tower

January 9th, 2017: Cohen meets with Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg and Andrew Intrater, CEO of Columbus Nova, at Trump Tower.

  • Cohen, Vekelsberg, and Intrater discussed mutual desires to strengthen Russia’s relations with the United States under Trump.

  • Vekelsberg is known to be close to the Kremlin, overseeing projects to modernize the economy. He has been sanctioned by the United States in response to Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

  • Columbus Nova, an investment firm that represents Vekelsberg, paid about $500,000 to Michael Cohen’s shell company, “Essential Consultants LLC.”

Cohen Concocts ‘Peace Plan’ with Russia Surrogates

January 2017: Met with Sater and Andrey Artemenko in Manhattan

  • A former Ukrainian citizen and politician, Artemenko met with Cohen to discuss a plan to lift sanctions against Russia.

  • The plan agreed to withdraw Russian troops from Crimea on the condition that Ukraine held a referendum on whether Crimea could be “leased” to Russia for 50 or 100 years.

  • Cohen delivered the sealed proposal to former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who has pleaded guilty to a count of lying to the FBI by the Mueller investigation.

Cohen Arranges Back-Channel, Investigation into Paul Manafort Dropped

June 20th 2017: Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko meets with Donald Trump at the White House. The meeting is supposedly arranged by Cohen.

  • Cohen apparently received $400,000 in payment to arrange the talks.

  • Poroshenko allegedly wanted a “back channel” to President Trump.

  • Cohen was not registered as a representative of Ukraine, and denied that the arrangement occurred.

  • A week after the meeting, Ukraine’s Anti-Corruption Bureau stopped investigating Paul Manafort, who had worked for pro-Russian interests in Ukraine.

Special Counsel Refers FBI to Investigate Cohen

April 9th, 2018: FBI raids Michael Cohen’s Manhattan hotel room

  • Special Counsel Robert Mueller made a referral to the FBI to search Cohen’s room

  • It is suspected that the raid was not directly related to the Russia investigation, but that the Special Counsel uncovered information he thought significant during the course of his probe, that prompted him to make the referral.

Cohen Linked Russian National Interrogated by FBI Agents

April 24th, 2018: Russian Fighter questioned by FBI

  • Just two weeks after the raid on Cohen’s hotel room in New York, Russian fighter and Putin-favorite Fedor Emelianenko is questioned by FBI agents.

  • Emelianenko has been linked to Trump and Cohen since 2008, when he signed with Affliction Entertainment – a fight league that Trump owned.

  • Michael Cohen was Affliction’s chief operating officer. The league collapsed after just two events for financial reasons.

  • It is unclear if the interrogation of Emelianenko was tied to the investigation of Michael Cohen.

Giuliani Tells Press of First Trump Tower Meeting

July 30th, 2018: Rudy Giuliani denies Cohen’s claim that a first Trump Tower meeting took place, Cohen made no such claim

  • Giuliani told Fox News, “[Cohen] says there was a meeting with Donald Jr. with Jared Kushner, with Paul Manafort, with Gates and possibly two others in which they, out of the presence of the president, discuss the meeting with the Russians.”

  • Giuliani continued, “That meeting never, ever happened. It didn’t happen. It’s a figment of his imagination or he is lying.”

  • Cohen never made mention of a planning meeting for the June 9th meeting in which Russians offered “dirt” on Hillary Clinton to the Trump campaign.

  • Giuliani’s blunder suggests that there was a planning meeting, and that Cohen knew about it.

Michael Cohen Pleads Guilty to Eight Counts, Including Criminal Tax Evasion And Campaign Finance Violations

August 21st, 2018: Michael Cohen pleads guilty to several financial crimes, including campaign finance violations relating to hush-money payments to silence women and influence the presidential election.

  • Cohen does not explicitly agree to cooperate with investigators, but enters into an agreement that could limit his sentence if he agrees to assist the special counsel.

Michael Cohen Pleads Guilty to Lying to Congress

November 29th, 2018: Michael Cohen pleads guilty to lying to Congress about his contacts with Russia during the 2016 campaign, and corrects the record to confirm that contacts persisted until June of that year.

The Special Counsel and the Southern District of New York File Sentencing Memos

December 7th, 2018: The special counsel’s memo suggests that Cohen has provided the special counsel with credible information to aid in the ongoing investigation into Russian interference. It recommends that the Court give “due consideration to the defendant’s effort” to assist.

  • The sentencing memo from the Southern District of New York, meanwhile, admits for the first time that Michael Cohen committed felony campaign finance violations in coordination with, and at the behest of, Donald Trump.